Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Republican says to think like Business People

Richard Painter suggests that Republicans avoid a market crash and vote for Hillary Clinton!
by Charlie Leck

Tuesday morning July 26, 2016), in an editorial in our local newspaper, Richard Painter, a Republican and a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Law, makes a remarkably important case for voting for Hillary Clinton. You can read the entire opinion piece in the July 25, 2016, StarTribune.

I’ll quote the last three paragraphs here…
“Republicans think like businesspeople. The stock market is moving toward an all-time high, but only because investors seem to think Clinton will win the election. If we bet on Donald Trump, we become crass and stupid speculators — shorting the stock market and everything else in the American economy, and then waiting for the coming crash. Except no one will profit. Trump has lost billions of dollars loaned by bondholders, banks and other creditors of his businesses who never got paid. Why would any smart investor assume that kind of risk for the entire country? 
“A smarter and more patriotic alternative is to play the long game: hold onto your IRA, keep your business running, support Clinton. She’s a strong choice, and her four years in the White House will buy Republicans the time we need to rebuild our party and put forward a predictable and practical progrowth candidate in the future. 
“For Republicans like me, it’s time to support a candidate who won’t destroy our economy (she may improve it). Let’s make Hillary Clinton our next president for the sake of the Republican Party and — more importantly — for the future of our great country.”
Richard W. Painter is S. Walter Richey Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Minnesota Law School and former associate counsel to the president and chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush. The opinions expressed here are solely his own.


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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Donald Trump and Racism

One of the most awful things one can do is to call a person – or label a person – a racist without carefully explaining one’s self. I think Nick Kristof shows such caution in his NY Times column about the possibility that Donald Trump is a racist.
by Charlie Leck

There’s an interesting piece in this morning’s NY Times raising the question about whether Donald Trump is a racist. The column is written by Nicholas Kristof, who worked his way through over 1,000 pages of legal documents to pick up some interesting tid-bits.

In a government law suit “the Trumps eventually settled on terms that were widely regarded as a victory for the government. Three years later the government sued the Trumps again, for continuing to discriminate.”

Kristof quite fairly points out that the above law suit was really against the Trump organization when Donald Trump’s father, Fred, ran the operation. Nevertheless, Donald Trump took clear sides against the civil rights movement of the 1970s.

And, Kristof writes...
"Another revealing moment came in 1989, when New York City was convulsed by the 'Central Park Jogger ' case, a rape and beating of a young white woman. Five black Latino teenagers were arrested.
"Trump stepped in, denounced Mayor Ed Koch's call for peace and bought full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty. The five teenagers spent years in prison before being exonerated. In retrospect they suffered a modern version of a lynching, and Trump played a part in whipping up the crowds." 
Going beyond Kristof's column, one must add here that Trump exploded with anger when the five black men were released from prison and "exonerated," as Kristof explains their release.

In an editorial in the New York Daily news, Donald Trump called he settlement a disgrace. Mr. Trump argued that the huge settlement amount wasn't necessary even if they didn't commit the crime (it was certain DNA evidence that cleared the men). He went on to write that "these young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels." 

In a February edition of The Huffington Post this year Andy Campbell wrote a story that carried this headline: “Donald Trump has been Self-Funding his Bigotry Parade Since at least 1989.” Campbell points out that Trump spent approximately 85,000 dollars on ads protesting the prisoner release in that Central Park Jogger case.

Go! Go read the Kristof column! You will be rather stunned by some of the things you’ll learn about Trumps attitudes about “blacks.” I had to calm myself a couple of times by closing my eyes and forcing myself to relax.

Kristof urges caution when judging anyone as a racist because it’s a loaded and dangerous word.

“It’s also true,” he concludes his column by saying, “that with any single statement, it is possible that Trump misspoke or was misconstrued.”

However, the columnist concludes by allowing us to keep wondering… “And yet.”
"Here we have a man who, for more than four decades, has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities, some of them made on television for all to see. White any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern -- and I don't see what else to call it but racism."  

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Donald – Donald Quixote that is!

Remember the novel – by Miquel de Cervantes Saavedra – Don Quixote? It was about a fellow disappointed by the society in which he lives because he can find no true chivalry.* So he decides to undo all the wrongs of society and to restore justice and righteousness. Hidalgo is the main character’s name, but let’s just go with Don – or Donald – or the Donald!
by Charlie Leck

Our protagonist has something of a reckless and unreasonable mind that wanders and wavers; and Don lives in this real world in a disconnected and rather simplistic fairy tale manner.

One thing you learn very quickly about this amazing character is that he is shaky of mind and easily fools himself into thinking he is being heroic and very successful in his efforts to return the character of the world to norms of chivalry. In the very first days of his adventure, riding off on his knight’s horse, Rocinante, he makes an utter fool of himself, but he is not able to recognize how hopelessly stupid he really appears to be to all around him.

Now, mind you, the Don is not a young man as he sets out to establish this land of chivalry. The ancient suit of Armor he digs up must be a great weight upon him and he must have poured a lot of energy into just moving around with it on. He takes a farm girl from a neighboring piece of land as his wife – calling her his ‘lady-love’ and changes her name from Aldona to Dulcinea del Tobos.

The Don is declared a knight by the manager of an inn in which he chooses to spend the evening of his first day out to reform the world. The declaration of knighthood is made because the Don makes such a fool and pain-in-the-ass of himself in the embarrassed in-keeper’s establishment – making the prostitutes think they are ladies of the kingdom. The Don gets into a number of bothersome arguments and fights with workman who cannot stable their mules because the Don and his horse and armour are taking up all the space in the stables.

In these early adventures, the poor maimed-of-mind Don toys with majestic fantasies. He sets free a young boy who is being mistreated by his father. Of course, the boys finds the freakish adventurer silly and mindless and returns instantly to his master’s care.

Soon after, the Don encounters some gentlemen travelers who insult his Dulcinea and he challenges them to a fight to reestablish her honor and dignity. He’s severely beaten and is later found at the side of the road by one of the other peasants of the neighborhood. The kind man gets the Don up and back to his humble home.

It takes awhile for the Don to recover from his beatings, if he ever really does recover, and he finds another demented fellow, Sancho, to join him in his efforts to reestablish chivalry and they are soon off to attack and battle some windmills that they believe to be vicious colossī.

I could go on and on here and tell you about one adventure after another into which the Don’s distorted and ill-informed mind leads him – only to have each of the exploits end up badly for the demented man and his foolish follower, Sancho. Again and again the Don and Sancho insult people of every level of society and life because they believe in some kind of unrealistic world that exists only in the mind of the Don.

Beaten, whipped and finally understanding that he has been living in an imagined world where chivalry no longer really exists, the Don realizes what a fool he has been and he apologizes, just before his death, for all the great harm and damage he has done during his quest.

Burlesque might be the best word to describe the adventures of the Don.

However, you must be warned that there are a great many readers of the story who seemed to be attracted to the demented Don and think he might have something in his quest for a world that does not exist; and these followers (we can call them Sancho and friends) are even willing to join him in his ferocious and tragic fight with windmills.

*Chivalry – the rules and customs of medieval knighthood


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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Art of the Deal!

Trump’s best-selling book, The Art of the Deal, was ghost written! The ghost-writer was interviewed for an article (in The New Yorker magazine by Jane Mayer) about the book and about Donald Trump. What Mayer says and what the ghost-writer says is frightening!
by Charlie Leck

In Trump’s announcement this past June that he would run for president, Donald Trump listed his qualifications: “We need a leader that wrote The Art of the Deal!” The book, of course, was ghost written by Tony Schwartz, who recently commented to Jane Mayer for her column in The New Yorker: “I put lipstick on a pig!” I think it’s a terrific piece. I suggest you read it before really deciding to vote for the Donald. Schwartz had gotten to know Trump so very personally, so it is interesting to hear him tell us that the idea of Trump as president (the President) terrifies him.

Tony Schwartz suggests that the book ought to have been called “The Sociopath!” Oh, my! Here’s a clip from the magazine.

“Schwartz had written about Trump before. In 1985, he’d published a piece in New York Magazine called A Different Kind of Donald Trump Story, which portray him not as a brilliant mogul but as a ham-fisted thug who had unsuccessfully tried to evict rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants from a building that he had bought on Central Park South. Trump’s efforts – which included a plan to house homeless people in the building in order to harass the tenants – became what Schwartz described as a ‘fugue of failure, a farce of fumbling and bumbling.”
Amazingly, “Trump loved the article!”

I loved the comment Schwartz made in the magazine article about his decision to write the book: “He knew he would be making a Faustian bargain!”

“It was one of a number of times in my life when I was divided between the Devil and the higher side.”
One of the problems Schwartz encountered as he began working on the book was that the man had “no attention span!... like a kindergartner who can’t sit still in a classroom.”

Amazingly, this adult Donald Trump might become president of the United States! Schwartz said of Donald’s ability to sit and think: “…it’s impossible to keep him focused on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes… If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time.”

From all that Schwartz said about his time and interviews with Trump, it’s impossible for me to imagine the Donald reading a long, complicated report about international problems or possible dangers to the nation.

In fact, I don’t believe that Donald Trump understands the complexities of being the president. He looks at it as just an office where he can get immeasurable attention while he keeps making his own personal business deals. I imagine he plans to have a staff do all that tough reading and study.

Trump will be a joke in international conferences and in complex meetings with the heads of other nations. He’ll try to get leaders of other nations to allow him to build hotels or gambling casinos on their most attractive pieces of land.

As for the infamous wall, Donald will become bored with this project very quickly. There’s no money in it for him!

Schwartz says he thinks Trump’s problem with paying attention makes him a man with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” (As he said to Jane Mayer who wrote The New Yorker article.)

How many important books of fiction or non-fiction do you imagine that Donald Trump has read – straight through – all the way! I can’t imagine him reading the four volume biography of Lyndon Johnson written by Robert Caro. Douglas Brinkley’s marvelous biography of Jimmy Carter, The Unfinished Presidency, would be an impossible read for him. Forget Thomas Piketty’s important book Capital.

When asked by Megyn Kelly (Fox News) about his favorite book, Trump’s reply is almost unbelievable. Jane Mayer quotes Trump’s answer to the question:

“I read passages, I read areas, I’ll read chapters – I don’t have the time!”
Schwartz told Mayer that “Trump seemed driven by a need for public attention.”
There are a number of examples of Trump’s untruthfulness or, more precisely, as Schwartz says, that “lying is second nature to him.” Schwartz continued…

“He lied strategically. He had a complete lack of conscience about it!”
When confronted by such lies or incredible boasting, as we’ve seen in the campaign, “…Trump would often double down, repeat himself, and grow belligerent.

Are these the traits and characteristics we want in our president – the President of the United States of America?

I can’t believe how many people are being suckered in by this incredible and scandalous liar!
Jane Mayer paints a remarkable picture of the real Donald Trump in her extraordinary article. This particular description sends chills up my spine…

“Often, after spending the day with Trump, and watching him pile one hugely expensive project atop the next, like a circus performer spinning plates, Schwartz would go home and tell his wife, ‘He’s a living black hole!’”
I guess it would be more helpful to all of us, instead of reading The Art of the Deal, if we would read Trump Nation by Timothy L. O’Brien. Mr. O’Brien makes it clear that Donald Trump is a liar of serious dimensions. For instance, Trump has told the world, a number of times, that his wife, Ivana, had been a top model and an alternate on the Czech Olympic ski team. Not true!

Remember Trump’s insistence that President Obama had not been born in America and that he (Donald Trump) had investigators who had come up with interesting proof about this claim of his. There was never any truth to that. Not one shred of evidence was produced by Mr. Trump.

Trump’s life is, itself, a lie. He’s lied about how unimportant his father was in establishing his wealth – that he’s made it on his own. Not true! Had it not been for good-old-dad this man would be a nobody and only the blow-hard and self-obsessed person he is. Donald Trump is a narcissist of worrisome proportion.

Here’s Schwartz’s final word on Trump in The New Yorker article – it’s quite incredible and, I believe, very true…

“If Trump is elected President, the millions of people who voted for him and believe that he represents their interests will learn what anyone who deals closely with him already knows – that he couldn’t care less about them!’”
Think about it!

We mustn’t allow Donald Trump to become President!


*The article appeared in the July 25, 2016 issue of The New Yorker.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

We Must Become the Leaders we Seek

This problem of discord among peoples in America is not impossible to fix. You can fix it with me and quickly!
by Charlie leck

A reading of this morning’s newspapers awakened me and helped me to find an answer to the very vital questions with which we have struggled this past week. Let me point you to the Washington Post, which provides this very important answer to the most asked question of the last week: “ In our moment of division, who will lead?” I’m telling you, the Post has the most poignant, intriguing and very practical answer to the question: “…it would be nice if politicians did not immediately fall into partisan ruts, or post Facebook banalities.” Then Michael Gerson, in his brilliant column, which I urge you to read, presents us with the only solution that might possibly work…

Even if we cannot, as individuals, hope to change systemic racism, most of us have the ability to defy our times and reach out across lines of race and religion. And religious people have a particular calling in this area. A pastor friend who runs a retreat center in rural Virginia found an abandoned slave cemetery on the property. His religious community reached out to African American leaders and together they rededicated the cemetery, asking for forgiveness and praying for healing. None who participated came away unchanged.
In this example, Gerson is telling us something very important. Hear what he says: “While waiting for leaders, perhaps the most practical and hopeful path is to become them."

Read it slowly. Let it sink in! Then, let it consume you! Help your neighbors to understand! Talk about it with your friends! Make it a topic at your church or synagogue. Find ways to convince nearly everyone you know that this IS the answer.

We can NOT wait for leadership any longer. We (you and I) must be the leaders we seek. There is no one else! So, we cannot fail! We must speak of neighborliness – and equality – and undiscriminating love. Somehow, the people of America must do what constitutional amendment, congressional legislation and community organization cannot do. We must change the culture of this issue – of this argument – of this social catastrophe!

Go and speak of love and caring. Make it undiscriminating! Love and care for all people in all ways and at all times.

Change the direction of these frightening times. Love will conquer fear. Friendship will heal the deep wounds our country now displays.

A new president will not change things. New laws will do no good! Stronger, better trained police departments will not help. Education practices will not really change without the support and help of people who care and love and want equality for all.

We must prove that black lives matter and so do white lives, brown lives, yellow lives and red lives. And what matters most is that we trust each other. Such trust will never come about until we, the people, really begin to trust one another and care for one another and love one another.

We – you and I – must start saying no to hatred. We must banish this fear of one another. We must build sincere friendship with people who are different than we. We must! We must bring other people into our circles of caring and friendship. How many black friends do you have? How many Muslim people have you associated with and made into friends. How many Native Americans do you know?

You see! Our circles are too tight! There is no hope for America when we do this!
Don’t call me a child or a fool! Don’t tell me it could never happen. Say yes to possibilities! Say yes to hope.

You want to know how we shall end this nightmare in America? I’m telling you: We must stop waiting for someone else to do something about it. We must stop it now.

We are the leaders we have been hoping for! I swear to God it is true!


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Monday, July 4, 2016

So Little Time

I’m computer cleaning. I found this piece I wrote. I think I published it as a blog once, but I’m not sure, so I’ll save it here.
So Little Time
As my grandchildren grow and mature, I hope they’ll read the real histories of America – the people’s histories – and understand that global peace is possible if we’re humble enough to work for it.
Yesterday, I sat for a few moments with a woman a bit more elderly than even I. I had delivered to her some lamb from our farm. We chatted. The subject turned sharply and became volatile.
She’s a wealthy woman. She lives on a big piece of land that was settled in 1857 by my wife’s great-great-grandfather. There’s a pretty pasture south of the house and some handsome horses grazing in it. You’d think she’d be a soft, conservative lady who would acquiesce to her husband’s politics.
America, she thinks, ought to stop being so hypocritical in its criticism of other nations of the world. She’s angry about the way we treated those detainees we held for the last eight years.
I know her husband real well. I’ve played plenty of golf with him. We went out to Pebble Beach together and down to Palm Springs for golf outings.
“We’ve got no right to complain about the way other nations treat people,” she went on. “Just look at the way we fire bombed Dresden and Tokyo during the war – even before that ghastly atomic bombing. I’m tired of this country being so self-righteous about everything. Look what we did in that prison in Iraq. Look what we did to them in Guantanamo.”
She pointed me toward the books of Howard Zinn.
“He wrote what’s called ‘a people’s history of the United States.’ None of this balderdash they teach in school. Zinn tells the truth. You didn’t go hear him on Monday night?”
I meekly shook my head.
“I told you about it!” She looked both displeased and disappointed. I looked out the window at the grazing horses. That pasture is land that old grandpappy Bradford Wakefield would have cleared.
She handed me a book by Stephen Kinzer.
“Be sure to read this. You’ll find out who really runs this nation. It certainly isn’t the people!”
Oh how I wished there had been time to sit with her and chat. She was frantic, however. I could see it in her eyes. She had warned me she was busy and had other plans for the morning. She had fire in her eyes and I wanted to hear everything she had to say.
There was so much truth that needed to be gotten out, and so little time!
Instead, I took the book and made my way to the car. Jasper and I pulled over into the parking lot of one of the town’s fancy country clubs and we took a moment to look at the book. I started by reading down the back cover. There is high praise from the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune. The publisher’s blurb was interesting.
“Regime change did not begin with the administration of George W. Bush but has been an integral part of U.S. foreign policy for more than one hundred years. In Overthrow, Stephen Kinzer tells us the stories of the audacious American politicians, spies, military commanders, and businessmen who took it upon themselves to depose foreign regimes, starting with the toppling of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. He details the three eras of America’s regime-change century: the imperial era, when Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Honduras were brought into the U.S. orbit; the Cold War era, when the CIA deposed governments in Iran, Guatemala, South Vietnam and Chile; and the invasion era, when American troops overthrew governments in Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

“Kinzer explains why the U.S. government carried out these operations and why so many of them have had disastrous long-term consequences. Overthrow is a cautionary tale that serves as an urgent warning as the United States seeks to define its role in the modern world.”
I looked over at Jasper and said, “So much to read and so little time!”
He sighed and seemed to understand.
“Let’s go home and find out about Howard Zinn, big fella. Oops, now, don’t get upset. We’ll go to the dog park first.”
So it wasn’t until this morning that I googled (oh, how I love that verb) Howard Zinn. In a tenth of a second I had 1,340,000 hits. (See why I like that verb!)
I started off at the Howard Zinn website and read the latest Howard Zinn news and some biographical information about him.
This came from the Harper Collins website.
“Howard Zinn is a historian, playwright, and social activist. He was a shipyard worker and Air Force bombardier before he went to college under the GI Bill and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He has taught at Spelman College and Boston University, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Paris and the University of Bologna. He has received the Thomas Merton Award, the Eugene V. Debs Award, the Upton Sinclair Award, and the Lannan Literary Award. He lives in Auburndale, Massachusetts.
Well, the credentials ain’t bad, are they?
Wikipedia tells me that Zinn is best known “for A People’s History of the United States, which presents American history through the eyes of those he feels are outside of the political and economic establishment.”
Zinn flew bombing missions in World War II. He stands in total opposition to war these days. He was active in the American Civil Rights movement in the 60s and served as an advisor to the Student Nonviolent coordinating Committee (SNCC). He was a mentor to a young student of some reknown – Alice Walker.
Howard Zinn has authored more than twenty books. And, I’ve never read a one of them.
“So little time.”
Well, I’ll begin with Kinzer’s book, Overthrown, while I wait for A People’s History of the United States to arrive.
Zinn was here in town on Monday. He spoke over at my wife’s alma mater, the College of Saint Catherine. Why the hell weren’t we there? Because I’m not supposed to drive at night and my poor wife has been going so fast and furiously that I just couldn’t ask her to spend another night out. And, I hadn’t yet sat with this kindly, tiger of a woman and heard her lash out at the emptiness of the histories we give to our children to read.
“I’m not saying, you know; I just saying!”

You’ve got to add a couple more books to your reading list. So little time!


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